A major accident at mid-day yesterday has seriously injured a senior member of Skoda Auto a.s. and forced both Skoda Octavias out of the Rally of Argentina, round five of this year's FIA World Rally Championship.

The two Skoda rally cars were stationary in a queue waiting to enter a time control point following the completion of special stage 11 when both Octavia WRCs were struck by an emergency vehicle responding to a brush fire that had set light to several spectator cars.

It appears that the fast travelling water truck skidded out of control, turned over and landed directly on Bruno Thiry's Skoda Octavia. The vehicle also hit the sister car of Armin Schwarz that was parked directly behind.

In the accident Dr Jens Pohlmann, Skoda Auto's Engineering Director with responsibility for motor sport, was struck by the emergency vehicle and he suffered serious head and internal injuries. Dr Pohlmann was stabilised on the scene by doctors from Ford and Subaru teams, transferred by ambulance to a helicopter and flown directly to the Hospital de Urgencias in Cordoba.

The 54-year-old German is reported to be conscious and in a stable condition. Initial reports from the hospital indicate that Dr Pohlmann has a broken pelvis and at least four broken ribs. He is currently undergoing a brain scan and further medical examinations and tests. The presence of the Czech ambassador for Argentina, Edita Hrda, with the team today has helped to ensure that Dr Pohlmann is receiving the best possible care.

Although neither Schwarz nor Thiry - nor either of their respective co-drivers Manfred Hiemer and Stephane Prevot - suffered any physical injury in the incident, they all were badly shaken. Thiry had been sitting in his car when the tanker rolled over onto it and the other three crew members were standing within 10 metres of the frightening accident.

In the sad circumstances, the team will not be continuing to contest the event. Thiry had been holding tenth place at the conclusion of the special stage 11 while Schwarz was in 13th position.